Walking in the Cotswolds – A Travellers Guide

The Cotswolds is a perfect walking country with its excellent series of rolling hills set amidst lush green countryside.

It is the epitome of rural England, with lovely villages built of local golden stone. Alongside the hills, there is wonderful open countryside, wooded valleys, brooks, rivers, parks, and town and village trails to follow.

Walkers are almost spoilt for choice when choosing their route in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. With thousands of miles of footpaths and bridleways, it is a walker’s paradise.

Undoubtedly, the Cotswolds’ most famous walk is The Cotswold Way, a 102-mile (164 km) long-distance walking trail that runs between the beautiful market town of Chipping Campden in the north and the World Heritage City of Bath in the south.

The trail runs for most of its length on the Cotswold escarpment, passing through many picturesque villages and close to many historic sites, such as Sudeley Castle near Winchcombe, Hailes Abbey and many beautiful churches and historic houses.

The Cotswold Way has been promoted as a long-distance walk for over 30 years. Following many years of lobbying by the Ramblers Association and others, its special qualities were recognised, and it was formally launched as a National Trail in May 2007.

The Cotswold Way is featured in Great Walks of the World, a book written by Canadian author D. Larraine Andrews and published in the summer of 2014. This eclectic collection of 12 global walks and hikes includes destinations on every continent except Antarctica, with an in-depth chapter on the Cotswold Way National Trail.

Andrews makes no apologies for her obvious bias regarding the delights of walking in the English countryside… and the Cotswold Way rates close to the top of the list.

James Blockley, trail manager of the Cotswold Way, said: “England’s newest National Trail provides a remarkably diverse taste of the wider Cotswolds landscape.

“In just one afternoon, you can wander from open wildflower meadows with breathtaking views into cool shady woodlands carpeted with bluebells, and through sleepy villages and into bustling market towns. The Cotswold Way is the string on which the pearls of the Cotswolds are strung.

“The Cotswolds has a rich and diverse range of experiences to suit all kinds of walkers. Not only are the footpaths some of the best in the country, thanks to the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens, but there is also a dense network of well-signed long-distance paths, all interweaving to create a spider’s web of walking opportunities.”

While the Cotswolds attracts walkers worldwide, providing them with some beautiful places to enjoy their passion, James says that walkers also help the Cotswolds enormously.

“Not only do they contribute enormously to the local economy, supporting a wide range of businesses, but they also have a role in keeping the Cotswolds recognised as one of the key walking destinations in the world – the walking opportunities are there because there are those who want them!” 

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